The Union Buildings, Pretoria

Union Buildings, Pretoria

The first time William Letsoalo looked at the grounds of the Union Buildings arrayed below him, he says, he fell in love with it.

He was brought in as project manager for the new company that had received the grounds maintenance tender. No horticultural experience, except for gardening at home, he had been 27 years in the field of paint technology.

He inherited gardens neglected by a previous company that had for months abdicated their duties upon learning that their contract would not be renewed on the grounds of BEE fronting.

A story containing many elements familiar to contemporary South Africa. And yet: look at these photos - they were taken almost two years after Letsoalo’s appointment. He laid a sound groundwork: headhunting the best workers of the previous company and thereafter appointing women to men in a ratio of roughly 3:1 for general gardening tasks.

Establishing a team of groundswomen and female supervisors has paid dividends: turnover is low, the gardens look magnificent and his workers are noticeably sunny. >>